Park City ski industry group broadens its outreach with research, partnerships | VailDaily.com

Park City ski industry group broadens its outreach with research, partnerships

Carolyn Webber
The Park Record

Snowsports Industries America's goal has always been to help the winter sports industry thrive. Since selling its main event the Snow Show last year, President Nick Sargent said the organization is more on task than ever to move toward that goal.

SIA, which is headquartered in Park City, Utah, is shifting its focus this year to expand its research, members and partnerships within the industry, Sargent said. The organization also recently announced that it will be hosting a winter industry festival in April in conjunction with the Thin Air Festival in Park City.

Sargent said that SIA has always collected information about sales and consumer behavior, but wants to grow its efforts.

'Make better decisions'

"Now that we don't have the Snow Show, we are taking a deeper dive and a deeper focus into research and metrics and data," he said. "It helps support the businesses and helps our members make better decisions."

Sargent said that another main goal is to collaborate with organizations in order to grow the industry. SIA currently works with retailers, manufacturers and other groups including the National Ski Areas Association and the Professional Ski Instructors of America to increase skier and snowboarder participation.

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Since weather and the climate are so important to the ski industry, one way to collaborate is through political activism and serving as advocates for sustainability.

"A challenge is cost, a challenge is climate and a challenge is weather," Sargent said. "We have to take a more active role in those specific areas and address them — locally and nationally and cross-category from industries — to really give the next generation a place to continue to evolve."

SIA is expanding its reach in the industry as well. In the past, retailers and resorts were not able to join the association as members because SIA focused on the manufacturing and trade side of the business. Six months ago, that changed.

"(Now) we have a larger net to work with, but we are also aligning ourselves with our other industry cousins to really work and attack these initiatives from a holistic position," he said.

One of the ways SIA is doing that is with its new festival. Leaders will gather to discuss industry issues at the Spring Fest this April, which is set to take place alongside the Thin Air Festival.

"Our industry was looking for an end-of-season event — a reason to come together, a reason to celebrate the season," he said.

During the event, there will be a focus on bringing a diverse set of industries together to talk about the climate, weather, consumer participation and the community. The Spring Fest will include panel discussions by speakers inside and outside the winter industry, as well as parties and concerts.

Sargent said that the event is not meant to replace Snow Show, with which SIA will still be heavily involved. Instead of focusing on the products, the Spring Fest will stress education.

Through increased collaboration, Sargent hopes to see the industry step up and solve the problems together. If that happens, he will feel like SIA made a difference.

"No longer can we operate in these single silos," he said. "I'm very excited. There is so much opportunity for us, and so much opportunity for our industry."